Vorn Chinh (C), 27, enters Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Chinh and four male accomplices were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a couple in Sen Sok district earlier 2012. Photograph: Lieng Sarith/Phnom Penh Post
A gang of five found guilty of murdering two lovers they spotted in a field, raping one of them, were sentenced to life in prison for those and a string of earlier crimes at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
The four men and one woman were also fined 80 million riel ($20,000) each for their role in the grisly premeditated murder and rape. A man died at the scene and his lover died in hospital after being gang-raped, presiding Judge Duch Kimsan told the court.
Vorn Chinh, who confessed she kept watch for the group during the rape and murder, admitted in court that, after leaving a construction site, they spotted a couple making love in a rice field, illuminated by the headlamp of a motorbike, and descended on them.
“The two perpetrators [Chea Vandy and Touch Sothea] killed the woman and stole the moto after raping her, while myself and Chhouy Mao were the street-watchers,” she told the court.
The crime took place in Phnom Penh Thmey commune’s Damnak Thom village, in Sen Sok district, on January 23 this year.
Ringleaders Chea Vandy and Touch Sothea repeatedly beat the male victim with a baton until he died, before gang-raping his girlfriend, Vorn Chinh said.
All were found guilty of conspiring in the brutal rape and murder, but Touch Sothea and another man, Im Chamroeun, confessed only to committing theft in a separate case.
“I did nothing, and why have you dropped this charge on me? Where is the justice?” Touch Sothea told the court, crying.
Chea Vandy and Chhouy Mao, who had already received 10- and eight-year sentences respectively for illegally carrying weapons in another commune on the same day as the murder, remain at large.
They were sentenced in absentia.
In another case, Touch Sothea was sentenced to 10 years for use of an illegal weapon and Vorn Chinh to two years for theft for a separate crime committed in the same area in January this year.
A spate of smaller convictions were handed to other members of the group.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lieng Sarith at firstname.lastname@example.org